Morning Medical Update Tuesday 11-14-23

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


Key points from today’s guests:

Amanda Sprinkle, acute myeloid leukemia patient

  • Amanda needed a bone marrow transplant and on the national “Be the Match” donor registry, there were initially 26 matches. However, none of them panned out and the best match based on genetic testing was her brother.
  • Amanda went home 18 days after her transplant. We are now about 60 days post-transplant and Amanda is doing very well.
  • The goal is for her to recover for 100 days before being in public with groups of people as her immune system needs to fully recover.

Jonathan Sprinkle, Amanda’s brother & bone marrow donor

  • Jonathan, a pitcher in the Houston Astros minor league system, took time off from baseball to become a bone marrow donor to save his sister’s life.
  • Doctors took normal immune cells from Jonathan's pelvic bone and took them to cell processing.
  • Medical lab scientists filter the marrow and count the cells. Then a machine took one liter of Jonathan's donation and pulled out just 105 milliliters of stem cells so they could be implanted into his sister.

Laura Sprinkle, Amanda and Jonathan’s mom

  • Amanda is not the family’s first cancer patient. Amanda and Jonathan’s brother Jacob was 11 when he was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent treatment until age 14. He’s been in remission for about six years.
  • Laura has been impressed by the level of detail that has gone into the bone marrow transplant between Jonathan and Amanda.

Jodi Wilson, RN, blood & marrow transplant coordinator, The University of Kansas Cancer Center

  • As nurse, we have just an extensive background in different areas. And we bring to the table just our ability to navigate the whole system, which is massive.
  • It is important to be able to walk patients and their families through all these trials. We get to educate them from the day they walk in the door with leukemia.
  • We explain what the process is going to look like and then we're able to just really walk hand in hand with them and share in these joyful moments when we get to find donors. But then also cry with them when things don't work out and really help them navigate the hard stuff.

Dr. Joseph McGuirk, hematologist & medical oncologist, The University of Kansas Cancer Center

  • If you're Caucasian of Western European descent, your chance of having a match in the national donor registry about 75 percent. Yet for other populations -- Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, African Americans -- the chances of having a match in the registry are much less.
  • We came to a better understanding of how the immune system works and how we could modulate that and get these donor grafts to grow in our patients without causing terrible complications such as graft versus host disease.
  • Those advances have opened up the field remarkably to all people in need of a transplant with outcomes that are very similar to a perfect match.
  • It's hard on families, even like Amanda's family with such great family structure. Not every family has that and so we do have to reach into some other areas and find the resources to try to make this work for them.
  • For CAR-T therapy, there are now six Food and Drug Administration approved CAR-T cell therapies for different types of lymphomas, acute leukemia, multiple myeloma, and many, many more to come.
  • They're being studied in solid tumors now in the context of clinical trials and other blood cancers as well.
  • We're in the middle of a revolution and cancer therapeutics. Right now we're seeing advances that are unprecedented in cancer therapy. And we can envision a future where nonspecific chemotherapy as we've known for decades may have its days numbered and it will disappear.
  • We are much more precise in how we kill these cancers without causing so much collateral damage to other normal healthy tissues for our patients. It is the most exciting time of my career.

Katie Kopp, non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivor

  • At 64, Katie was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and after several therapies failed to treat it, Dr. McGuirk was able to enroll her in a new clinical trial.
  • It is referred to as CRISPR and Katie is one of the very first in the world to be successfully treated with the new method.
  • It allows scientists to precisely cut out any strand of donor DNA so it can be used by a patient.
  • She encourages others to spread the word about the type of treatments available for cancer.

Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 8 a.m. is the next Open Mics with Dr. Stites. A woman is diagnosed with breast cancer 5,000 miles from home. We’ll show you how she navigated her way to the treatment which saved her life.

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